Weekend Roundup: Spreading Some Link Love

They say that the best bloggers regularly visit and read other blogs – so I’ve been trying to spread my love around the Internet as much as possible, compiling only the best links for my ThisFitBlonde Facebook page (please go visit!) and reading up on topics as diverse as makeup tips, fitness trends, wedding planning, fashion looks, travel ideas, party planning concepts, new recipes, and all sorts of other stuff that I find pertinent to a well-rounded wellness lifestyle.

That said, I figured you guys might want to know where I’m getting some of my great tips and links, so each weekend, instead of writing up one of my witty and interesting (cough) posts, I’ll share some of my favorite bloggers and posts.  Sound good?  Here we go.

Are you as obsessed with coconut as I am?  Check out these amazing – and easy – coconut spread recipes.

I’m planning a wedding.  And I LOVE color.  This pop-art wedding inspiration shoot makes me smile.

When you run, you get ravenous.  So here are some ways to tame your running hunger – yes, it’s called runger.

I get wildly different responses from others when I am wearing makeup and not.  This could be why.

Don’t let your confidence be dictated by your skinny jeans.  That said, said jeans can make for a great workout idea.

Small spaces baffle me – what to do with no real room for design?  Turns out you can do the whole thing on $500 or less.

I try not to splurge on workout tops, as said.  But this cheeky one might have to be my exception.

What have you been reading online lately?  Any amazing blogs I should know about??

 

 

 

 

 

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Splurge & Save: Fitness Edition

We all have those things – those expensive-but-worth-it things, those gotta-have-it-at-any-price things, those splurge-but-i-need-it things – and then there’s the other stuff.  The stuff that’s not worth putting your life savings into, but can be fun for a little impulse buy or pick-me-up.  And I want to address both of those categories in today’s post.

For example, I always splurge on running shoes.  AL.  WAYS.  There is no substitute for proper fit, alignment, and form when it comes to distance running gear, and going into an actual running store, getting professionally fit, and purchasing your first pair of “real” shoes from a pro shop is a must.  That said, once you know your style and arch type, you can go online and search out the best deals for your shoes (for my Asics, Kelly’s Running Warehouse is tops) – and save a bit o’ cash.  (I’m currently running in these lovelies – Asics Gel Evate – which I bought for under $80 at the Asics factory outlet).

That said, I never spend more than $30 on walking/crosstraining shoes.  Granted, I am on my feet over 10 miles a day (friend me on Fitbit for proof!) but all I need in this arena is a nice, supportive, decently stylish shoe – I’m not as worried about mechanics as I am long-duration comfort.  So I hit the shelves at Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s, or even Ross for these (and have picked up several name-brand, last-season pairs – Adidas, Nike, New Balance, and Brooks – at my price point!).

Another splurge?  You guys just read the most – waterproof longwear makeup.  There is no fooling around when it comes to my cosmetics, and I will accept nothing less than the best when it comes to my products.  But a dedicated save?  Makeup remover.  A friend recently turned me on to the magic of using Johnson’s baby shampoo (no more tears!) to get off my most stubborn eye makeup (yes, even liquid eyeliner, waterline pencil, and mascara) and it changed my life.  Buy a bottle and believe.

Speaking of workout necessities, lululemon pants are a must.  Disclaimer: they’re about a hundred bucks (!).  But also know this: they last forever (I recently just wore out my first pair ever from 2006, and remember I wear them at least once a week).  I don’t care if you have a thousand pairs of black capri workout pants; if you don’t have at least one lulu (my fave is the Inspire Crop), you have nothing.  Your butt has never looked perkier, your legs never smaller, and your torso never leaner than you will look in these pants – and I’m serious.

But whereas the pants are worth the cash, workout tops are (somewhat) a dime a dozen.  Once you’ve got yourself a sturdy sports bra, what you put on top is going to get covered in sweat, makeup, gym filth, etc. – so it’s really not worth paying a pretty penny to put on your bod.  I actually find that some of my favorite tops are from the clearance rack, or even not workout tops at all – I wear a racerback lacy black shirt that always gets compliments and is definitely from Wet Seal.

And finally – when it comes to healthy living – you gotta feel confident splurging on organic and healthy food.  Sure, the organic kale is twice the price.  Yeah, I known the organic apples don’t last as long, and the organic grass-fed beef is about a zillion times the price of the Wal-Mart ground chuck.  I get it.  We’re all on a budget.  But whereas people will shell out four bucks for a giant coffee drink, they shudder to pay a couple extra dollars for premium food in the supermarket – a decision that makes no sense for your wallet, your body, or your waistline. 

If you want to save a few bucks in the supermarket, go for bulk – bulk bins, that is.  Grocery stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts have bulk-bin areas where you can buy what you need by weight – at significantly lower prices.  I rely on bulk oats, nuts, flaxseed, spices (this is a boon when you want to try a new recipe but don’t want to commit to a whole $6 bottle of za’atar), and even freshly ground natural peanut butter to stretch my grocery dollar a bit further while still getting the natural, whole foods I love.

What healthy stuff do you consider “essential” splurges, and where do you try to cut costs?

 

Waterproof Your Makeup Like a Fitness Pro

I’m a fitness instructor, and as such, I spend a lot of my day sweaty.  LIke, a lot.  Like, imagine working out and sweating, but then having to go back to your job – without showering.  Then do that again.  Maybe three more times.  That’s my day.

Obviously deodorant, dry shampoo, hairspray and perfume play a huge role in my life (and I go through bottles of these things on a near-weekly basis).  But what is most crucial to getting through the day looking semi-professional are my waterproof makeup tricks – a combination of products, creative layering, and a commitment to consistency.

No matter what, I wash my face with my Clarisonic Mia brush and pat on Simple gel moisturizer – a gel moisturizer keeps the face relatively matte (if I want to add “glow” I’ll use product) and creates a smooth surface for the next step – sunscreen.  I am addicted to Cotz Face, a lightly tinted SPF 40 that also helps smooth out the “canvas” of my face for the next step – priming.

Primer is key, and if anyone tries to tell your your makeup is going to last 24+ hours, or 2+ workouts, without it – they’re lying.  Although I was just telling a client today that I am still on the lookout for the perfect primer (any suggestions, readers?), I vacillate between Smashbox Photo Finish and L’Oreal Miracle Blur.  Don’t forget to prime the eyes too!  If you want even a prayer of keeping your mascara in place, your eyeliner along the lash line, and your shadows on your lids, you gotta prime up – and I will only use Urban Decay Anti-Aging Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

There are days that the sunscreen and primer combo is enough for my skin – but there are days I need a little bit more coverage.  On those days, I buff in it Cosmetics Celebration Foundation over the primed face for an even, redness-reducing but natural base.

Once my face is prepped, I move on to the blush – a cream blush is going to have the most holding power since you rub it in rather than brush it on, and I really like the classic Tarte Cheek Stain since it’s relatively foolproof.  I’ll usually skip bronzer and contouring for a workout day, but if I was to contour I’d be using Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer (two shades lighter than my skin tone) and Tarte The Sculptor face slenderizing stick.

Ok, now we need to get serious.  Sit down.  Pull out your savings account.  All of it.  Then shake it into the coffers over at Make Up For Ever.  Their Aqua line of products is basically all you need for the rest of your entire face – their waterproof cream eye shadow (which I use in black as eyeliner), brow cream (stays on FOR EVER.  like, scary amounts of time), and rouge lip color will outlast anything you could possibly do in the gym.  But the real secret there is their Aqua Seal – it turns regular products (even complicated stuff like glitter, pencils, or highlighting powders) into waterproof masterpieces.  Yep.  You don’t even NEED to buy their (again, amazing) products if you buy the seal and “seal up” your existing products.

You will note that I haven’t talked mascara yet – because, shock of all shockers, I actually use normal mascara (Dior Iconic Overcurl, natch).  Not waterproof.  Weird, I know, but I find that waterproof mascara actually irritates my eyes (and flakes off), while my regular mascara (upper lashes only, let’s not be crazy – we are sweating here, ladies) curls my eyelashes up and keeps them out of damp areas.  I’ve yet to have a drippy clown-crying effect using this mascara, even in sweaty Spin classes, so I consider it a win.

AND FINALLY – yes, there’s one more step – I seal everything in with one of two powders, depending on how long I need it to last and how “glowy” I want to look.  My usual go-to is it Cosmetics CC powder, brushed lightly all over the face (even my eyeshadow!) to seal it in.  But when I want to radiate a bit more (or last a bit longer), I’ll poof on some Cover FX Illuminating Setting Powder – the perfect loose powder to hold everything together while looking fresh and natural.

It seems like a lot at first, but I will tell you – layering and aqua-proofing takes way less time than constantly reapplying and touching up, and the quality of the products will also help your skin stay clear, sun-protected, and healthy looking all day.

What are your favorite fitness-friendly makeup products?  What long-wearing cosmetics do you swear by?

Kettlebell Kamp

(Hey look!  It’s a #workoutwednesday post!  Am I a cool blogger now?)

A lot of gyms are getting kettlebells these days, which also means a lot of people are getting hurt using kettlebells these days.  In truth, I think everyone using a kettlebell (heretofore abbreviated to KB) for the first time should be supervised by a trainer or physical therapist, because these dense little guys are actually quite technical to use.  

That said, as technical as they may be to learn at first, they are effective as hell, and make for a fantastic workout when used correctly – which is why I recommend them to many of my clients for strength, fat loss, agility, and balance.

The first thing you need to know about KBs is to start light – lighter than you think.  I put a 15-pound KB in the hands of most folks; 10-pound if they are relatively new to exercise without strong core musculature.  The basic movement is the KB swing, which comes in two forms – Russian and American – distinguishable only by the height of the swing (shoulder vs. overhead).  

The proper way to swing the KB is to “push” with your legs (hinging at the hips like a deadlift, NOT bending the knees into a squat), “stabilize” with your core (i.e. don’t arch your lower back), and let your (straight) arms act as ropes – simply swinging overhead rather than trying to lift the KB.  This is why people use heavier KBs than they do dumbbells; whereas you eliminate momentum when lifting weight, you want to maximize it when swinging KBs.

The second thing you need to know about KBs is that they are equally effective used as a substitute for dumbbells, weight plates, etc. in moves like squats, lunges, pushups, and situps (holding KB at chest).  Sometimes having a weighted object with a handle makes seemingly complicated moves seem easier (say, Russian twists holding onto a KB rather than a spherical medicine ball).

Now that you’ve gotten down the basics, how do you combine the KB moves into an actual workout?  That, my friends, is what makes the KB so amazing – it only takes about 20 minutes to get a heart-pumping cardio and strength combo workout that will leave you feeling exhausted but accomplished.  So, without further ado – your (roughly) 20 minutes of KB action:

THE TFB* DBKB** WORKOUT

20X Russian swings to warm up, then:

  • 20X KB squats
  • 20X KB lunges per leg
  • 20X jump squats w/KB
  • 20X jump lunges w/KB

20X American swings, then:

  • 20X KB pushups (10 with KB under each hand)
  • 20X KB Russian twists (left-right is ONE rep)
  • 20X KB sumo squat to high pull

20X swap swings, then:

*short for ThisFitBlonde    **short for “death by kettlebell

Let me know if you give this one a try – and if you already use kettlebells regularly – what’s your favorite move?

 

Packing Prep Made Easy

I hear from a lot of friends that one of the most stressful parts of traveling is packing for the trip.  They overpack; they forget things; they never have what they want for the weather/event; they end up throwing things into a bag and arriving with luggage full of mismatched socks, half a bathing suit, and nothing to cover up with when the nights get chilly.

Sound familiar?

Well, worry not.  I consider myself an expert packer – and not because I use fancy vacuum-sealed packing pouches, or luggage cubes, or any of the plethora of cool travel aids I DO one day plan to have.  Nope, I’m simply a prepared traveler who is gone almost every weekend of the year and needs to know how to throw together a bag quick – and with style.  So here are some of my secrets:

First, check the weather at your destination, then make a list of events you need to be prepared for throughout the trip.  Make sure you check both the weather during the day and the weather at night to see if you’ll need layers (or socks/closed toe shoes!) and make a comprehensive list of events, even the seemingly small (for example, if you’re going to a wedding, of course bring your formalwear for the reception, but don’t forget about the rehearsal dinner, morning-after brunch, or even late-night hotel party when you’ll be DYING to get out of your formalwear and into something more appropriate).  For my next weekend trip, I spend on hitting the pool, so I’ve packed a beach hat, sunscreen and bathing suit for that “event.”

Next, set a color theme.  My theme for this weekend’s travel is simple: graphic black and white.  This allows me to narrow down my shoe choices, add accessories that can cross over several different outfits, and streamline to a single purse.  Makephoto 2 sure every outfit you select fits the color theme, is appropriate for the specific event, and make sure you have at least one outfit of separates that mix and match with each other into a new outfit (this is the “backup” outfit in case your flight gets delayed or you simply aren’t feeling your original combo).

After the clothing choices are done, choose a staple shoe (this is the everyday, walking-around option) and a fancy shoe (something that can elevate the daytime outfits to nighttime status).  That’s right folks: stick to TWO pairs of shoes (plus running shoes, to be addressed later).  Be firm with your color theme and creative with accessories and this should not be a problem.

Speaking of accessories, I like to choose several mix and match pieces that can go with any of the outfits (in the case of this weekend, a few bangles, a few cuffs, and a gold chain will do) and pack ’em up in the ONE (yes, again, be firm!) purse – functional and contained in one place.  For an extra tip I stole from my best friend, wrap the pieces individually in tissue paper before tossing them in the purse, eliminating tangled chains photo 3and chipped enamel upon arrival.

Once you’ve got outfits and accessories, you’re almost done – but before you start packing anything, lay out the undergarments you need for each outfit (think of whether you need strapless or racer-back for a given outfit; if you need nude underwear for light pieces, or if you need compression or shapewear for your formal garments).  The worst thing in the world is to arrive at your destination white with white pants and nothing to wear underneath but floral briefs.  Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared – for anything!

Finally, whether you choose the traditional fold or trendy roll method, pack your clothes from the end of the trip backward – for this weekend, for example, I am packing my “Monday” clothes on the bottom, topped by Sunday, then Saturday on top – this way I can unpack in the order I am actually wearing the clothes, eliminating rifling through my bag and wrinkling everything looking for a certain piece.  Accessories go right on top and ta-da – you’re packed!

But remember when I mentioned my running shoes above?  Yep, they don’t go in the bag – and there’s several reasons for that.  First of all, I like to wear my (cutest!) gym clothing when I travel, mostly because it’s comfortable, but also because I then know I have my gym outfit for the weekend, I don’t have to pack stinky gym shoes in a nice clean bag, and I don’t have to carry the bulk of sports bras, pants, tanks, jackets and shoes throughout the trip – I’m already wearing them!  Just remember to bring a dirty clothes bag and close-tie shoe bag for after you wear the stuff at your destination; they have to get back somehow.

One final note – toiletries.  The best way to do it is to keep a pre-packed bag of all your travel-size toiletries ready to go – this way you are never left wondering if you have an essential item, and you can toss it in before the day you leave for a no-stress departure.  It takes some effort to maintain the travel-size stuff (when you run out of toothpaste at your destination, you have to make a note to replace it when you get home before your next trip!), but it will save you lots of time and worry.

What are your “insider” travel tips?  Are you a particular packer – or a last-minute loader?

Breaking Down

Those who know me know I never get sick.  BECAUSE I DON’T.  Except when I kind of do.

I woke up yesterday after 8.5 (glorious!) hours of sleep with drymouth and a scratchy throat.  I knew what it meant.  I just refused to accept it.  I worked all day yesterday, ran 6.5 miles at 7:30pm, got home around 9 and still had two hours of work to catch up on.  I fell asleep at around 11:30 and had to be up at 5, at which point I thought I’d just “power through” the day.

Well, that “power” lasted about three hours.  I took two clients.  I ran 4 miles.  And then I came home and barely made it to the couch before passing out again.  

I hate this feeling.  How do people deal with this?  I want to keep pushing and pretend I’m OK, but I acknowledge when my body is sending me a loud and clear message.

It doesn’t hurt that there’s a Simpsons Marathon on TV, let’s just be real.  That will make anyone feel better.

I’ll be back tomorrow, hopefully feeling better, and definitely trying to pump myself full of sleep and vegetables – the only two cures that I truly believe in.

What are your surefire “feel a cold coming on” home remedies?

On My Radar

Let me get one thing straight: I AM NOT A PACKRAT.  No, really.  I hate clutter and “collections” and any sort of extra stuff lingering around the house.  But what I do have is a slight addiction to reading magazines – I subscribe to over 13 different titles – and when I read them, I tear pages out and put them in little piles next to my desk.

These piles are not necessarily organized but they do have “themes,” such as recipes, fashion inspiration, or workout ideas.  So in an effort to both force myself to get through the piles and also share some of the gems I find in my copious magazine research, I figured I’d post a few of my current finds here so you guys can see what’s on my lifestyle radar.

First off, you should all know I’m obsessed with makeup.  Yes, I wear makeup when I work out (super waterproofed!).  Yes, I am a VIB at Sephora (going for VIB Rouge this year, dammit!).  Yes, I have multiple versions of every single product you can imagine – but I only wear one brand of mascara (Dior Iconic Overcurl) and will never waver.  So lots of the stuff on my radar is related to or specifically makeup.

Like this AMAZE M.A.C. brush.  I have foundation brushes big and small; flat and round; mineral and liquid – you name it.  But what I do not have is this oval brush, and it is huge and amazing (also $42, and also impossibly hard to find).  DYING.

Speaking of brushes, I also have a bumper crop of bronzers, because I truly do use it every day (gotta get my fake tan on, you know).  I am dying to try Giorgio Armani Maestro Liquid Summer Bronzer – put on after Un Nuit a Bali Intense Exfoliating Scrub.  Gotta get my glow on.

Moving on, of course I am addicted to all things fit fashion – so the (relatively) new Live Love Dream line from Aeropostale basically has my name on it.  ARE YOU SEEING THESE $22 LEGGINGS?  They might as well already have my legs inside them.

But to wear leggings like that you gotta work your ass off – literally.  So I subscribe to Oxygen magazine to ensure that I am getting “real” weightlifting ideas – not just the crap in the girly magazines that tell you to pick up 2-pound weights and spin them around.  And Kathleen Tesori’s fat-burning program is no joke – I plan to use a modified version as I prepare for my upcoming wedding (because I am going to be a BUFF bride!).

Does anyone else struggle with chipped manicures?  I mean, I feel like the second I walk out of the salon, my nails are already shot, and the dream of a weeklong chip-free manicure is oh-so-far away.  That said, I am dying to try Sally Hansen Miracle Gel – I can’t commit to getting to the salon every week or even every two, so perhaps an at-home gel is the way to go.  Anyone tried this one – or another brand?

Somehow I’ve found myself on a Bollywood dance mailing list, which both amuses and scares me (perhaps my open Twitter love for So You Think You Can Dance outed me?).  I loved the few times I took Bollywood at the dance studio I attend here in L.A. but I could never picture myself learning some of the more advanced movements – it’s such a challenging dance style!  That said, I just got a brochure for ARYA Dance Academy and it’s got me thinking about my Bollywood dance dreams yet again…

And finally, our wedding registry.  The monster of wedding-related responsibilities, in some ways this is the biggest deal because the gifts you receive for your wedding day are really the only things you have left after the flowers, decorations, and food is gone – they’re the most important decision you make in wedding planning and yet they often get swept aside in favor of more immediate wedding tasks.  I keep going back and forth between wanting to revamp every single thing we have in the house or simply building on what we are already doing decor-wise – and the poor registry is constantly in flux and unfinished.  One thing I’m absolutely sure we need is this adorable asparagus platter from Crate & Barrel.  I am such a sucker for serving dishes and this one is too cute!

What is on your radar right now?  Do you keep ideas/products somewhere for reference (besides Pinterest)?

 

It’s Not Easy Being Green

When I was a little girl, my favorite book to read was a simple collection of stories called Frog and Toad Are Friends.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Frog and Toad series follows two main characters – Frog and Toad, natch – who are basically the odd couple.  

Frog is a laid-back type of dude; Toad is an uptight worrywart (no pun intended).  Their antics together are simple but the messages in the books are profound – which is why, when I came across a multi-book compilation called Adventures of Frog and Toad at Marshall’s the other day, I absolutely had to buy it (only $7.99 hardcover!).  

I turned immediately to my favorite story, the one about Frog writing Toad a letter.  Poor little Toad lamented that no one would ever send him a letter; every day he would wait for the mailman and every day he would be disappointed.  Finally Frog decided to write Toad a letter so he wouldn’t be sad, but the postman didn’t deliver it on time, so Toad still didn’t believe that Frog really wrote him one, which in turn made him sadder.  Eventually everything was sorted out, but I just remember being brought to tears thinking about poor Toad, sitting on the stoop, completely convinced that no one would ever send him a darn letter.

In a way I couldn’t possibly have understood as a child, I now realize that I have learned the lesson in that story time and time again: even if it seems like you aren’t ever going to get out of the situation you are in, or get the job you want, or find the partner you want, or make the money you want – the wheels may already be in motion without you even knowing about it.  Frog had already written the letter when Toad decided to give up on the mailman; the letter was on the way whether Toad believed in it or not.

Life has shown me time and again that sometimes it is important to have faith even when it seems hopeless, and to stay earnest even when it seems like a waste of time and energy.  You never know who/what is “writing you a letter” right now, as we speak, something on the edge of delivery into your life to remind you that believing in something, wanting something, hoping for something – it matters. 

What’s your favorite children’s book?  How has its message affected your adult life?